Cossondra George is a 7th grade math and social studies teacher and school technology leader at Newberry Middle School in Newberry, Michigan. Here she presents in an Education Week article ten “stolen” secrets borrowed from other teachers to keep the classroom running fairly smoothly:
1. Have specific places for students to turn in work.
“This stops students from tossing a paper onto my desk and having it sucked into the black hole, never to be seen again.”
2. Have a designated place for absent students to collect their work when they return to school.
“I put exactly what we did that day—with any homework and handouts— in a basket marked both with ABSENT WORK and the particular class period.”
3. Have a NO NAME folder.
Students will, on occasion, turn in work without their name. Later, when they note a missing assignment, you can ask: “Did you check the No Name folder?”
4. Use an online grading program.
This makes for fewer parent phone calls, fewer students asking questions about their grades, less time spent preparing lists of missing assignments, and best of all, no last-minute panic at report card time.
5. Have a board in the hall outside your classroom where you write what students need for class each period.
This method reminds students what to bring each day and helps teach them to be organized. Thinking of everything they’ll need for the next hour during the four minutes between classes can be tough,
6. Write the day’s lesson for each class period on the board.
This solves the perpetual “What are we doing today?” question as well as focuses you and your students on the task at hand.
7. Expect students to come to class prepared.
“Time in the hall is wasted time, so I do not give students an excuse to leave. It becomes a non-issue as students learn to check the ‘What do I need for class?’ board and realize I am not going to let them go wandering for calculators, pencils, etc. I loan pencils, paper, textbooks, etc., but not calculators. I say, ‘If you really wanted it, you would have brought it’.”
8. Keep seating charts handy.
“Put the charts on a lectern or other accessible location so you can take attendance in a split second as students complete the class starter task. Our attendance is required to be posted online within the first 10 minutes of class, so I transfer it as soon as the bell rings.”
9. Use email for parent contacts whenever possible.
This saves time and keeps a “paper” trail. Parents appreciate it. Establish a positive relationship with parents. Send them a positive email about their student. Those positives help when you do encounter a discipline problem.
10. Let go of the things that don’t really matter.
“Students know my books are not organized. If they want a book, they will have to dig for it, like a treasure hunt. Books in order may matter to you, but for me, those are hours better spent on other things. Examine your own classroom for those details that you can bring yourself to let go.”